Avatar: Addressing The Attending Confusion
By Frederick Alexander Meade
22 February, 2010
I undertake this journalistic excursion in response to a published article authored by Rohini Hensman entitled, “Avatar: A Parable About The Encounter Between Capitalism And Indigenous Peoples,” (Counter Currents.Org, Jan 29th 2010) in which the writer took liberty in critiquing my thoughts as expressed in an article I wrote entitled, “Avatar: An Extension of White Supremacy.” (Counter Currents.Org, Jan 5th 2010)
Ms. Hensman’s critique regarding my analysis of the White supremacist themes communicated in the movie Avatar is surprisingly rudimentary and largely void of substance.
In Hensman’s analysis of my ideas, she expresses that I am incorrect in regard to my having stated that Jake is proven the Na’vi’s physical superior.
Hensman’s reasoning that Jake was handicapped and therefore could not possibly be the Na’vi’s physical superior lacks depth. Jake, in his Avatar body, is able to perform as he did prior to his military injury that caused him to lose facility of his legs. This is clearly the underlying message and significance regarding his reacquired physical capabilities via the new physical vessel he essentially inherits.
At the very least his newly found physical abilities reflect those his twin brother would have possessed, as the Avatar body he assumes is a combination of this sibling’s DNA and that of a Na’vi. That the Avatar body is partly encoded with the DNA of a Na’vi is not the cause of Jake’s ability to outperform those belonging to this group; for the Na’vi all have similar genes. It is Jake’s twin brother’s genes, which by definition are similar to the ex-marine’s, that elevate him above the Na’vi physically.
Jake’s physical ascendancy atop the Na’vi would be proven continually by his mastery - within just a few months - of this group's practices requiring physical prowess, the subduing of the clan’s top warrior, Tsu’tey, and the taming of a revered and legendary flying beast; the likes of which only a few Na’vi in the entire history of the people had ever domesticated.
Furthermore, the presenting of Jake to the audience in his human state as a handicapped being, functions to make his physical dominance over the Na’vi even more offensive, as this incongruous proposition implicitly suggests that even a physically handicapped individual of European extraction can outperform any person of color. This is but one of the numerous subliminal messages conveyed in the film.
In Hensman’s critique she also suggests my having expressed that Jake is identified as the Na’vi’s savior figure is inaccurate. The writer’s assertion regarding the falsity of this fact is completely incorrect.
The only reason the Na’vi bring Jake before the Queen is because Eywa identifies him as a savior figure of “The People”, as expressed by a prophecy. Tsu’tey (the prince who Jake would later physically overtake – once again demonstrating his dominance over the Na’vi) reluctantly agrees to have Jake brought before the Queen only after he is made aware by the lead female character, Neytiri, that Jake has been identified by Eywa as the savior of the people as again expressed by the prophecy.
That the Queen of the Na’vi clan, essentially "speaks down" to Jake when she initially interacts with the supposed hero – as Hensman mentions in her counter argument as proof that Jake could not have been deemed a savior figure - does not change the fact that Eywa had recognized him as the figure spoken of in the prophecy that would serve as the deliverer of “The People.” Reason would suggest that perhaps the Queen’s behavior toward Jake functioned, as a diversionary tactic employed by the director of the movie to simply “play down” the racist theme many would logically conclude being communicated by the very notion of Jake being recognized as the savior figure of these foreign peoples. Interestingly, the Queen is never made aware of Jake’s significance in regard to the prophecy; which serves as further support in regard to the proposed aforementioned directorial misconduct.
Additionally, Jake is also identified as a spiritually superior individual as Eywa recognizes him as a more spiritually pure being in relation to others. This absurd reality emerges, in the face of his intentions to undermine the Na’vi, which he worked to do throughout much of the movie.
Ms. Hensman’s further assertion that Jake somehow was unaware of the inherent unscrupulous nature of his role as informant for the business class desiring to exploit the homeland of the Na’vi is naïve at best and simply counter intuitive.
Jake, as would be the case for any individual operating on behalf of a mercenary body, understood the inherent immorality in relation to working against the interests of the Na’vi. The lead character was even critical of the intentions of other ex- military personnel working as mercenaries when he initially arrived on the planet Pandora. To suggest that Jake did not recognize his own immoral behavior once joining the ranks of this class of operatives is to propose a logical contradiction.
Furthermore, Jake was willing to undermine the interests of the Na’vi so that he would - through technology - be able to regain the ability to walk, as he was promised this by his capitalist superior as compensation for his work in this area. Jake, in concert with the occupying business class, simply placed his personal interests above those of the Na’vi.
Lastly, Jake abandoned his objective to convince the Na’vi to remove themselves from their land only upon his realization this group would never engage in such an act for any reason, rendering any efforts to bring such an occurrence into existence useless. Until this point, Jake had every intention of working to ultimately have the Na’vi uproot themselves from their land. This reality prevailed for some time even after the Na’vi had civilized Jake.
Ms. Hensman’s critique further demonstrates a lack of analytical depth as Jake (as he did throughout the movie) further demonstrated his intellectual and spiritual dominance over the Na’vi, as it was proven he knew more in regard to how Eywa functioned than did this group.
Jake would try to conjure the power of Eywa in attempt to save “The People” as he prepared for battle with the business class. After having observed Jake’s efforts to invoke Eywa; Neytiri informed him that attempting to communicate with Eywa in this manner was an act rooted in futility, as the Na'vi believed Eywa never chose sides in such matters. Once again however, Jake is proven the Na’vi’s intellectual and spiritual superior when in fact Eywa adheres to his request and intervenes on behalf of the Na’vi during the battle.
In Hensman’s critique she attempts to counter this idea by questioning whether Jake would have been able to invoke Eywa to intercede on behalf of the business class thus enabling the Na’vi to be conquered. Such a proposition would run counter to the "surface theme" of the movie, as Jake is portrayed as a heroic figure. Jake would not have been made to invoke Eywa in the manner Hensman describes, thus to posit such a premise as the foundation for an argument designed to counter the prior mentioned proposition constitutes an unintelligible oxymoron. Such an argument is debased by virtue of its construction.
Scores of people around the world (of all races to include Caucasians) agreed completely with my analysis of the movie.
Never again should Hensman make an erroneous statement, as she did in her article, expressing that those people of who reach the obvious conclusion I have in determining the movie Avatar to be a racist production, do so as a function of some personal insecurity. Such a statement only denotes a state of intellectual bankruptcy.
Ms. Hensman efforts to discredit my thoughts as they relate to the overarching theme of White supremacy presented in the movie, Avatar; exposes the writer’s inability to apply reason and logic to given circumstances and brings to mind a quote from a revered past member of the clergy.
The late theological scholar and human rights giant, Dr. William Augustus Jones, would often state in response to such ineffectual efforts, “Where the sound of the trumpet is required, the flute will not suffice.”
Dr. Jones and I are in agreement.
Frederick Alexander Meade is a journalist providing analysis on social and political matters. His works appear nationally and abroad. The writer may be reached at email@example.com
Meade, Frederick Alexander, 2010, ‘Avatar: An Extension of White Supremacy’,
Hensman, Rohini, 2010, “Avatar: A Parable About The Encounter Between Capitalism And Indigenous Peoples”